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Slipping Happily Into the Gap

The first time I did it was Independence Day weekend, 2004.

I was faced with a choice: do I give away a huge secret that could send my career into overdrive, but leave me with less immediate cash in my pocket?
Or should I go for short-term prosperity from selling the secret in the form of a multimedia guide to my list?

The tie-breaker vote, as usual, came through as my mother’s voice in my head: “What will help the most people?

I get my most altruistic streaks from her, as well as the fierce independence and strength that every entrepreneur has to have to keep their feet firmly planted until profits come.

Now, I knew if I sold the tip instead of giving it away for free, that someone else would trade the information for positive press.

The choice I had to make was that much harder considering how broke I was at the time.

If this gamble didn’t pay off, I was definitely going to have to get a job again.

The response to what was treated as a breaking news story was breathtaking to say the least.

I’d released my article for reprint on a Friday, on a holiday weekend, so I wasn’t surprised that the initial response was mediocre at best.

But right after the holiday, my name was suddenly featured in publications I never dreamed of being quoted in.

What I wrote about was a fairly significant development at Yahoo! at the time. But it just didn’t seem THAT earth-shattering to me. I knew better to look a gift horse in the mouth, though.

I rode that wave of publicity for almost two years.

Eventually, the shine began to wear off, and new articles from me barely made a ripple; enough to bring new subscribers and sales, but nothing like the burst of business I’d enjoyed before.

It eventually dawned on me that perhaps I could do it again; maybe I could make another big splash in the press by breaking a news story.

But how?

What had I done right the first time?

I won’t bore you with a long story of dissection. It boiled down to these four things:

  1. The Right Story
  2. To the Right Audience
  3. In a Popular Format
  4. At the Right Time

Now, I’d gotten nearly all of these elements wrong the first time.

The audience I tended to be most successful with was entrepreneurs whose online presence impacted their business. A story that could help them prosper greatly always seemed to go over well.

Being published in the publications they most loved to read was a huge push.

My story had both misspellings and typos. I’d alluded to 5 steps in the title, and the article had only four.

I’d pitched it to the wrong audience; it went through technology audiences before it trickled down to business publications.

The format bit I’d gotten sort of right.

But the one thing I really had going for me was timing.

Maybe you noticed at the beginning that I told you I released this information on Independence Day weekend.

My logic at the time was that our audience, as people who publish online, is global. So I thought, when everyone is leaving early and easing up for the holiday weekend, I’m gonna double-down.

Every place that takes submissions would probably have fewer to sort through, so if I wrote a really top-notch article, it was very likely to be published, because all the other brilliant people were taking the weekend off.

At the time I was far away from my family, so missing time spent with them wasn’t a factor. Working through the weekend, and taking a few days off after gave me the same amount of time off, and a great head start.

The gap between the holiday weekend and when work resumes turned out to be a Godsend to a wanna-be expert trying to make an advance payment on her dues.

Never underestimate the power of timing. If you get that right, you’ll go a long way.

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Image: Kelsey Parker via Flickr, Creative Commons

Tinu Abayomi-Paul is a website promotion specialist and author. She invites you to join her for a 90 MinuteĀ Google Search Strategy Crash Course. Talk to her onĀ Twitter.

 


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